How to plan a trip around the world

How to plan a trip around the world

From striking natural wonders to important historical relics to fascinating cultural encounters, this world we share is a wondrously beautiful place—we don’t blame you for wanting to see and experience as much of it as possible. A round-the-world trip is a fabulous way to begin, but knowing how to start trip planning can seem an all-too-daunting task for even the most veteran traveller. If you’re feeling overwhelmed on how to turn your RTW travel aspirations into a reality, these Mr Hudson trip planning tips will help you get started with the essentials.

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Photo: Rana Sawalha

Photo: Rana Sawalha

Choose your must-visit destinations

One of the most exciting aspects of planning a round-the-world trip is, undoubtedly, deciding where it is you want to stop along the way. Don’t worry—you don’t need to narrow down an exact itinerary quite yet. However, an inspiration board of dream destinations will not only help with planning a round-the-world trip, but it will also ensure you have a concrete goal to work towards. Start by brainstorming a list of all the cities or countries that most catches your fancy, and then narrow it down to the destinations that are absolute must-visits. You can then plan the rest of your travels around these essential locales. A good peruse around our in-depth city guides and travel stories is a fantastic way to ignite your travel imagination.

While curating your dream travel itinerary, keep in mind the length of your trip and which months you plan to travel. Is this a one month jaunt or a year-long adventure? You don’t need to quit your job to take an RTW trip. Still, the duration of your travels will dictate whether or not it makes sense to stick primarily to major cities with international airports, or if you can venture off into more remote, regional areas. Seasonality might also play a determining factor in which international destinations make the final cut on your dream trip itinerary. The weather is unlikely to play ball on all of your stops, but are you willing to visit Thailand during the monsoon season or Romania in the dead of winter?

Photo: Alex Block

Photo: Alex Block

Photo: Joshua Earle

Photo: Joshua Earle

Of course, your travel budget will also influence the scope of your travel plan. While determining your dream travel plan itinerary, keep in mind that you’ll need to account for the cost of transportation, accommodation, insurance, visas, and other travel necessities along the way. Vacation planning can be undeniably overwhelming, but try not to get too bogged down in the details during the initial inspiration phase.

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Backtracking can lead to jet lag nightmares, and RTW tickets with major airline carriers will require you to book your flights in one direction anyway

Photo: Jeshoots

Photo: Jeshoots

How to book round-the-world flights

With a loose travel plan itinerary in hand, you can now start exploring RTW flights that will efficiently and economically help you circumnavigate the globe. This stage of trip planning will require you to decide if you want to head in an easterly or westerly direction. Backtracking can lead to jet lag nightmares, and RTW tickets with major airline carriers will require you to book your flights in one direction anyway.

The three major global airline alliances (SkyTeam, Star Alliance, and Oneworld) offer RTW airline tickets in conjunction with their partner carriers. Each alliance will have its own specific rules and regulations. For example, travelling itineraries might need to include a trans-Pacific flight, a set number of continents, and/or a minimum and a maximum number of stopovers. While planning a trip through the airlines involves more rules and regulations, this can be a smart choice for travellers with a slew of miles and points to redeem. Some airline offices also have designated staff to assist with purchasing RTW flights, assisting in the overall vacation planning process.

Photo: Robson Hatsukami Morgan

Photo: Robson Hatsukami Morgan

Photo: Yousef Alfuhigi

Photo: Yousef Alfuhigi

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In addition to global airline alliances, there are a handful of third-party travel sites that specialize in RTW flight reservations. AirTreks and World Travellers’ Club are two of the most popular companies. An agent will work with you to help plan your trip, transforming your initial brainstorming session into a smart around the world itinerary. Sometimes you’ll discover lower fares through these travel agencies, but that’s not always a guarantee. However, you can expect a helpful vacation planner as well as support with future flight changes or other issues that could arise during your adventure.

If you’re quite savvy with itinerary planning, then you might consider a piecemeal approach to booking your round-the-world flights. Planning a trip this way will require a certain level of date and destination flexibility, especially if your RTW adventure is over an extended timeline. That said, Google Flights and other online booking sites can help bridge destinations with low-fare flights—especially helpful when used in conjunction with ground transportation. For example, you could plan a trip that involves a budget flight from NYC to London, then take overland transportation across most of Europe before needing to hop on another plane. This is also beneficial if you want to plan trips that include more rural, off-the-beaten-track destinations.

Finally, consider how much time you’re willing to put into crafting the picture-perfect RTW travel itinerary. Booking your flights independently might be more economical (and even provide more flexibility for your dream travel itinerary), but it will be considerably more work than outsourcing directly to the airline or a third-party booking site.

Photo: Justin Luebke

Photo: Justin Luebke

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In addition to narrowing down your global travel destinations, you’ll also want to think about the specific trip logistics of each city and region on your journey

Additional tips for an epic RTW trip

Wondering what to pack for a round-the-world trip? The short answer: as little as possible. Most items can be picked up on the road, so stick to the travel essentials. Think about lugging your baggage up and down the stairs, across rugged terrain, and in and out of countless hotel rooms. If you don’t want to pack for a variety of changing climates, then also consider that when choosing your RTW destinations. Summer clothes lend themselves to packing much easier than bulkier scarves and jackets.

In addition to narrowing down your global travel destinations, you’ll also want to think about the specific trip logistics of each city and region on your journey. If you don’t have weeks to spend on painstaking destination research, Mr Hudson is here to help plan your trips. Our experienced travel experts curate one-of-a-kind itineraries, 100% personalised to your unique travel style. Whether it be a careful selection of the best cocktail bars in Seoul or the most refined safari experiences in Tanzania, we take your ideas and dreams and transform them into a bespoke travel itinerary—devoid of angst and stress. Find out more about our Trip Design service and elevate your round-the-world travel experience.

Photo: Jakob Owens

Photo: Jakob Owens

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